Thursday, May 21, 2015

Meyer Lemon Tart !

Hello Friends !
   Are you a lemon lover like me ? When my brother Chris and I were little,we would go behind the couch and eat lemons.I would eat mine with salt and he would eat his with sugar ! Have you had the wonderful delight of tasting Meyer lemons ?!! Now this is a lemon that I would do cartwheels over, if I still did cartwheels ! This lemon is sweeter than regular lemons and the skin smells divine ! According to Wikipedia, it is a citrus fruit native to China,and is thought to be a cross between a true lemon and either a mandarin or common orange.It was introduced to the United States in 1908 by the agricultural explorer Frank Nicolas Meyer, an employee of the US Dept. of Agriculture who collected a sample of the plant on a trip to China.
    My daughter has a home nearby me that just happens to have many Meyer Lemon branches hanging over their fence from the neighbor's yard, that was loaded with lemons this Spring !! And the neighbors said that we could have ALL we wanted ! Well,needless to say, I was in lemon Heaven making lemon vinaigrette, honey lemonade, and this delectable Lemon Cream Tart from the cookbook "Tartine",which was written by Elizabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson. They are a husband and wife team having trained in France to bake, who own the very popular Tartine bakery in a neighborhood,in the Mission District, San Francisco,Calif..I used to visit my daughter's Brittany,Courtney,and Ashley who lived there for awhile,and there was always a line out the door of this sweet-filled place !
   This tart is so creamy and lemony,that I would advise you only to make it for a crowd or immediately taking some to the neighbors,thus preventing you from eating the whole thing yourself !
If you can't find Meyer lemons now,you can use regular lemons or wait until next winter/spring when they are in season...if you can stand to wait that long !! I like to eat healthy food most of the time,having fresh fruit for dessert,but a little something sweet is nice to have once a week, or for a special occasion !

                                          Sweet Tart Dough for Lemon Cream Tart
                                                         (Pate Sablee)

Fully baked and cooled 9-inch Sweet Tart Dough tart shell
1 cup + 2 tbsp Unsalted butter, at room temperature  (9 oz./255 g)
1 cup Sugar  (7 oz./200 g)
1/4 tsp Salt (1 ml)
2 Large eggs, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups All-purpose flour  (17 1/2 oz/500 g)
                                                Egg Wash (optional)

1 Large egg
1 Pinch salt

   Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment,combine the butter,sugar,and salt and mix on medium speed until smooth.Mix in 1 egg.Add the remaining egg and mix until smooth.Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flour all at once and mix on low speed just until incorporated.
   On a lightly floured work surface,divide the dough into 4 equal balls and shape each ball into a disk 1/2 inch thick.Wrap well in plastic wrap and chili for at least 2 hours or overnight.
   To line a tart pan,place a dough disk on a lightly floured surface and roll out 1/8 inch thick,rolling from the center toward the edge in all directions.Lift and rotate the dough a quarter turn after every few strokes, dusting underneath as necessary to discourage sticking,and work quickly to prevent the dough from becoming warm.Cut out a circle 2 inches larger than the pan. If the dough is still cool,carefully transfer the circle to the pan,easing it into the bottom and sides and then pressing gently into place.Do not stretch the dough,or the sides will shrink during baking.If the dough has become too soft to work with,put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes before transferring it to the pan.If the dough developed any tears,just patch with a little extra dough,pressing firmly to adhere. Trim the dough level with the top of the pan with a sharp knife.Place the pastry shell in the refrigerator or freezer until it is firm,about 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
   Dock (make small holes) in the bottom of the tart shell with a fork or the tip of a knife,making tiny holes 2 inches apart.Place in the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes for a partially baked large shell or 5-7 minutes for tartelette shells.The pastry should be lightly colored and look dry and opaque.Check the shell(s) during baking and rotate the pans if necessary for even color.If you want to brush the shells with a glaze,beat the egg with the salt in a small bowl.A minute or two before the desired color is reached,remove the shell(s) from the oven and lightly brush the bottom and sides with the glaze. Return the shell(s) to the oven and bake until the desired color is reached and the glaze is set.Then bake 5 minutes longer to make this a fully baked golden brown shell.
   Let cool completely on wire racks.

                                                       Lemon Cream

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp Lemon juice  (5 oz/155 ml)
3 Whole large eggs
1 Large egg yolk
3/4 cup Sugar  (6 oz/170 g)
Salt- 1 pinch
1 cup Unsalted butter,cool  (8 oz/225 g)

1 cup Heavy cream,very cold
2 tsp Sugar

   Pour water to a depth of about 2 inches into a saucepan, (Do not use  an unlined aluminum pan,as this creates a metallic flavor when mixed with the acidity in the juice.) and bring to a simmer.Combine the lemon juice,whole eggs,egg yolk,and salt in a stainless-steel bowl that will rest securely in the rim of the saucepan over,not touching,the water.Whisk the ingredients together.(Never let the egg yolks and sugar sit together for more than a moment without stirring;the sugar will "cook" the egg yolks and turn them granular.) Place the bowl over the saucepan and continue to whisk until the mixture becomes very thick and registers 180 degrees F on a thermometer.This will take 10-12 minutes. Remove the bowl from over the water and let cool to 140 degrees F, stirring from time to time to release the heat.
   Meanwhile,cut the butter into 1-tablespoon (15-ml) pieces.When the cream is ready,leave it in the bowl if using an immersion blender,or pour it into a countertop blender,With the blender running,add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time,blending after each addition until incorporated before adding the next piece.The cream will be pale yellow and opaque and quite thick.
   Measure out 2 1/4 cups and pour them directly into the cooled tart shell.Shake the tart pan gently to smooth out the top of the filling.Chill the tart until firm,about 2 hours,(if you can stand to wait that long !) before serving.It will keep up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
   If desired,whip the cream in a mixing bowl with a whisk until thickened.Add the sugar and whisk until the cream holds soft peaks.Top the tart with the whipped cream and decorate with edible flowers like roses,Johnny jump ups,violets,etc..
   Take this tart to church, to a party,or just eat a slice at home and dream of traveling one day to Santa Barbara,California,where the lemons,oranges,and avocados are plenteous  in the warm sunshine !!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Moroccan Chicken Rice Soup !

   Although out in California,we are experiencing balmy Spring weather,I would imagine that in other parts of our country,there are still chilly days and nights,when a hot bowl of soup still warms the tummy ! This recipe for Moroccan Chicken Rice Soup has been a favorite in my family since my three daughters were wee little ones,especially when one of them was laid up with a cold and I carried a warm bowl up the stairs to her in bed.We fell in love with the variety of herbs and spices that are called for, which makes it so different from the more subdued versions of chicken noodle soup found in America.I found the recipe called Chicken Soup with Vermicelli in a fabulous cookbook called "Mediterranean,Over 300 Sun-Drenched Recipes."I changed the original recipe,omitting the parsnip,sometimes the chicken,adding celery,potato,and substituting brown or wild rice instead of the noodles,although I love linguini noodles in it ! In Morocco,usually the most senior female of the house,uses a whole chicken for this soup. It is a good recipe to double and freeze half, for a future dinner,or to take to a loved one who is sick.
                              Moroccan Chicken Rice Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion,chopped
2 chicken legs or breast pieces,
   halved or quartered (optional)
seasoned flour for dusting
2 carrots,cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 parsnip,cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (optional)
2 stalks celery,cut into 1 inch pieces
2-4 small potatoes,cut into 1 inch pieces
6 cups chicken stock
1 stick cinnamon stick
a good pinch of paprika
a pinch of saffron strands
2 egg yolks
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
5 ounces vermicelli,or linguini,or 1/2 cup brown or wild rice
salt and ground black pepper
   rustic bread,to serve

   Heat the oil and butter in a large cast-iron enamel or steel pan. Fry the onion 3-4 minutes until softened.(If you don't wish to add the chicken,you can leave the next step out.) Dust the chicken pieces in seasoned flour and fry gently until evenly browned.Put the chicken on a plate. Add the vegetables to the pan.Cook over low-medium heat for 3-5 minutes,stirring frequently until the vegetables are 1/2 cooked. Remove the vegetables to the plate.Add the stock,cinnamon stick,paprika,salt,pepper,and the rice.
   Bring the soup to a boil with the rice,cover,and simmer for about 40 minutes,until the rice is cooked. Add the vegetables to the pot and cook until they are tender.While the soup is cooking,mix the saffron with 2 tablespoons of boiling water or the broth.
   Beat the egg yolks with the lemon juice in a separate small bowl.Add the chopped parsley and cilantro.When the saffron water has cooled,stir it into the egg and lemon mixture.
   Skin,bone,and chop the chicken into bite-size pieces.You can also skin the chicken and leave the pieces whole.
   Reduce the heat and stir 2 tablespoons of the broth into the egg,lemon and saffron mixture.Then stir this mixture and the chicken into the soup. Cook over very low heat for 1-2 minutes.Taste to see if the soup needs more lemon juice,paprika,saffron,salt,or pepper. Adjust the seasonings and serve with a green salad and rustic bread !
  ( If using noodles,they can be added at the same time as the vegetables and cooked as long as the package says.)
   Eat this Heavenly soup by candlelight with a loved one,your family,or by yourself along with a good French movie like La Gloire de Mon Pere !
             Que Dieu Vous Benise et Bon Apetit.....God Bless You and Happy Eating !